Jeep Wrangler Review
The Jeep Wrangler is the original SUV, but it can’t claim to be the best – until you take it off road
Strengths & weaknesses
- Unbeatable off road
- Iconic looks
- Strong engine
- Unrefined diesel engine
- Ungainly on the road
- Expensive to run
The SUV can be traced back to the ancestor of the Jeep Wrangler, the Willys Jeep that transported Allied soldiers during World War Two. After the war, Jeep developed a four-wheel-drive vehicle for civilian use. Land Rover followed suit with a vehicle that became the Defender, and the rest is history.
A new generation of the Wrangler is out now, sticking to the design and engineering principles that convinced drivers that they needed something that at least looks as if it can go anywhere – even if that’s not the case.
The new Wrangler, despite being brought bang up to date in a number of ways, still retains stylistic features that have made it the automotive icon that it is. So there’s still a seven-bar grille and circular headlights, both set into a trapezoidal-shaped frame, squared-off wheelarches that, in some versions, flow into a practical running board, and it’s still chunky and rugged looking all over, even if the car’s traditional boxy looks have been smoothed off in some places.
The best bit about the Wrangler’s design, though, is that it can change character with relative ease, thanks to the fact that the roof panels can be removed (or rolled back, if a soft top is chosen), the doors can be removed and the windscreen can be folded down. These temporary tweaks give it the feel of a truly adventurous, go-anywhere off-roader. Admittedly, many owners will never even do this, but the very fact that it's possible is a major plus point and a real point of difference when compared to rivals such as the Volvo XC60, BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLC
Jeep has spent more time on the interior than ever before and there are now mod cons such as soft-touch materials, better switchgear, a TFT instrument cluster, USB ports (front and rear) and a touchscreen for the entertainment system in the centre of the dashboard (7-inch or 8.4-inch, depending on trim variant).
Inside the Wrangler, space is best described as adequate. The driver’s footwell does feel a little cramped, but there is enough headroom and the legroom in the back even in two-door versions of the car (for those who can squeeze in). There are quite a few storage options, too, enhancing the Wrangler’s sense of practicality: cubbies, cupholders and mesh pockets can all swallow up phones, water bottles, etc.
Bootspace is variable, ranging from the 192 litres with the seats up in two-door versions, to 1,044 litres with seats lowered in four-seat versions. The two-part rear door (the lower part holding the spare wheel), with its high floor, doesn’t make loading and unloading easy, though.
But despite all the upgrades and the greater focus of the cabin, the Wrangler can’t match premium rivals such as the Land Rover Discovery Sport, Volvo XC60, BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLC when it comes to interior quality and comfort.
The Wrangler also can’t match these rivals on the road, either: there’s all kinds of noise when travelling on tarmac; the handling isn’t very responsive or engaging; the steering is heavy and there’s a delay when turning the wheel; and the ride quality is unsettled, becoming very knobbly in Rubicon cars with its off-roading tyres.
That said, only the Land Rover Discovery Sport can come anywhere near the Wrangler’s off-roading capabilities – and even then the Rubicon, with its upgraded four-wheel-drive and suspension systems, takes those capabilities to another level.
For family or urban buyers wanting a comfortable, practical car, the Wrangler can’t match most of its rivals, from the premium European cars to even the likes of the Hyundai Tucson or Kia Sportage. However, if you enjoy off-roading, or tend to need something more capable for regular forays away from tarmacked surfaces, then the Wrangler is your best option.
|Boot size||192-1,044 litres|
|Tax||£1,240 in first year and £140 thereafter|
Best Jeep Wrangler for...
Best for Economy – Jeep Wrangler Sahara Two-door
None of the Wrangler variants are particularly economical, but the two-door version of Sahara trim is the least thirsty, with an official figure of 38.1mpg.
Best for Families – Jeep Wrangler Sahara Four-door
Any buyers with children (especially for young children in car seats) will need the extra two rear doors to enable access – plus the Sahara has the equipment that make it more family friendly.
November 2017: The new Wrangler is unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
September 2018: The Wrangler goes on sale in the UK.
Understanding Jeep Wrangler names
Body style Two-door
The Wrangler is available in either two-door or four-door forms.
There are three trim levels – Sport, Sahara and Rubicon. Sport is the cheapest and comes with the most basic level of equipment. Sahara is more expensive and has a higher specification. Rubicon is supplied with equipment better suited to driving off-road.
Jeep Wrangler Engines
2.2 MultiJet II
The Wrangler will initially go on sale with just a 2.2-litre diesel engine under the “hood”, with other engines being added to the line-up later (a 2.0-litre petrol in 2019, followed by a plug-in hybrid in 2020).
The diesel produces 200PS and can manage the 0-62mph acceleration test in 8.9 seconds (in Sahara trim and two-door guise), rising up to a maximum of 10.3 seconds (four-door Rubicon). It’s certainly not quick, but then this is a car built for off-roading, where taking it slowly is the order of the day if you don’t want to get stuck in mud, sand or snow.
It's also not quiet: on the road at cruising speeds, it can make quite a racket, which is augmented by a fair bit of wind noise and road noise (this is especially true with the Rubicon’s standard-fit off-roading tyres). The other bit of bad news is that fuel economy isn’t wallet-friendly, either, with a best official figure of just 38.1mpg, and the same goes for the CO2 figures of 195-201g/km, which will make the Wrangler’s VED expensive in the first year.
The good news is that there is plenty of grunt being generated by the engine for use off-road, with power kicking in quite low down in the rev range – which is what you want when negotiating tricky, slippery surfaces.
Jeep Wrangler Trims
Sport, Sahara, Rubicon
There are three trim levels for buyers to choose from, but final UK specifications haven’t yet been decided.
In terms of wheel choices, the basic Sport trim level comes with 17-inch alloys, while Sahara has 18-inch versions and the more off-roading-oriented Rubicon has 17-inchers with 32-inch BF Goodrich Mud-Terrain tyres.
Elsewhere, equipment includes a 3.5-inch (Sport) or 7-inch thin-film transistor (TFT) information LED display; integrated buttons on the steering wheel controlling audio, voice; a 7.0-inch or 8.4-inch touchscreens with the UConnect connectivity system (with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay ); four USB ports (two up front, two in the rear); and safety features including Blind-Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Path detection, front and rear park assist, rear backup camera, electronic stability control (ESC) with ERM (Electronic Roll Mitigation) and four airbags.
The Wrangler is available in 10 exterior colours and there are also three roof options: the Sky One-Touch powertop is a full-length canvas roof that opens with a push of a button; a new Zipperless Premium Sunrider soft top; and a Freedom Top that takes the form of a removable, three-panel hard top.
Jeep Wrangler Reliability and warranty
It’s hard to say exactly how reliable the Wrangler is because not only is it new, but there is also no history of it appearing in the Driver Power survey, because it doesn’t sell in high-enough volumes. Indeed, not only are there no Jeep models in the current league table, but Jeep doesn’t even appear in the list of manufacturers.
The Wrangler’s warranty is for three years and covers 60,000 miles, which isn’t that impressive, but is fairly standard for mainstream manufacturers.
Used Jeep Wrangler
At time of writing, the Wrangler hasn't gone on sale in the UK, so it's too early to find used, or even nearly new, examples.
Residuals should hold up pretty well, as they won’t be a glut of models on the second-hand market and there should also be a few fans who are looking for a Wrangler at a discounted price (arguably, it's a car that looks better with a ‘lived-in’ look, anyway).